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Research: Tape Less Costly Than Disks

Two recently released studies have found that tape had significant total cost of ownership over disk media, according to the Linear Tape-Open (LTO) Program Technology Provider Companies -- HP, IBM and Quantum -- that are backing the LTO tape solutions.

The two separate studies, which were done by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and The Clipper Group, evaluated the costs of long-term storage for various scenarios that included tape and disk as the primary storage medium. In each case, the studies found that tape had considerable long-term cost advantages when compared to a scenario that relied on a disk-only solution.

"The notion that 'tape is dead' ignores the substantial evidence that favors tape as a lower cost, environmentally friendly removable medium that is well suited for offline data protection as well as  high growth compliance, fixed content and archiving applications," said senior analyst Mark Peters who conducted the ESG study in a statement on the results.

The ESG study was sponsored by the Technology Provider Companies.

It evaluated a common disk environment with an industry-standard deduplication system versus a tape library with LTO-5, with full nightly backups, over a five-year period. It found that the total cost of ownership for VTL with deduplication ranged from about 2 to 4 times more expensive than the LTO-5 tape library.

A separate study on archiving very large data collections by The Clipper Group also found that tape is much less expensive than disk, using significantly less energy when measured on a per petabyte basis over a 12-year period.

The Clipper Group scenario found the total cost of ownership for the disk solution for long-term archiving to be over $67 million, about 15 times the $4.5 million cost for tape over the 12-year period.

During that period, the cost of energy for the disk solution was $4 million, but only about $18,000 for tape.

"Tape continues to play an important role in the protection and preservation of an organization's digital assets," argued Rob Clark, senior VP of the Disk and Tape Backup Product Group at Quantum. "These studies from leading figures further reinforce to the industry that tape is the optimal low cost storage medium for long term data retention."

More information on the studies is available at